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Nitish Wins Trust Vote, But Tejashwi Wins Hearts

Unlike Nitish Kumar who was bitter and unimpressive during his no-confidence motion speech, Tejashwi Yadav's composure with no inkling of ill-will won many hearts.
Bihar chief minister Nitish Yadav and his former deputy Tejashwi Yadav. Photo: X/@yadavtejashwi

Patna: Two weeks after returning to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) fold, the Nitish Kumar-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government won the trust vote by 129:0 amidst the walkout from the Opposition in the Bihar Assembly on Monday.

Earlier, the NDA’s no-confidence motion against Speaker Awadh Bihari Choudhary (Rashtriya Janata Dal) was won by 125: 112 votes, indicating amply that the ruling alliance had the numerical equations in its favour. The actual strength of the BJP-Janata Dal (United) and Hindustani Awam Morcha-Secular (HAMS) stands at 128 against 114 of the Mahagadhbandhan comprising the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Congress and the Left.

Three RJD MLAs, including Chetan Anand and Neelam Devi, son and wife of the ‘gangsters turned politicians’, Anand Mohan and Anant Singh respectively crossed the floor to support the ruling alliance. It was understandable in the light of the fact that Nitish, of course with the support of the RJD (in the government then), had changed the jail manual for the early release of Anand Mohan, a life convict in the IAS officer G. Krishnaiah murder case last year. Anant Singh stands convicted in multiple murder cases and is barred from contesting the polls. Neelam had contested the Mokama seat on behalf of her husband and won it in 2020 polls. Observers said that it was hard for the MLAs on the “wrong side” of the law to “antagonise” the party in power.

Moreover, policemen in huge numbers patrolled around the house of the former deputy chief minister, Tejashwi Yadav who was with his party MLAs at about 2 am, apparently to fuel fear among such MLAs. There were signs of fissures in the JDU too and Jitan Ram Manjhi (HAMS) with four MLAs had openly expressed his dissatisfaction against “poor portfolio allocation” to his MLA. The media was agog with the speculations of some JDU MLAs “snapping” contact with Nitish Kumar.

Even if these speculations were true, the RJD, Congress and Left were too poor to match the BJP in terms of “resources” required in a power game. Armed with power at the Centre, financial muscle, overall control over the prosecuting agencies and penchant to selectively target the opponents, the BJP was better equipped to operate against the Opposition in the state.

Tejashwi Yadav

Nitish Kumar-led NDA might have won the trust vote but Tejashwi Yadav has, apparently, won the heart. He sounded bitter when Nitish had dumped him, first time, in 2017. He used pungent words against Nitish then. His Monday speech was in sharp contrast to that of 2017. With a smile on his face, Tejashwi began his speech by saying, “Aap (Nitish) meray aadarniya thay, aadarniyan hain or aur aadarniya rahengen (I respected you, respect you and will keep on respecting you).”

“You dubbed me ‘beta (son)’. I honored you as an elder of the larger ‘Samajvadi parivar’ and was obedient to you. But you have acted like king Dasratha who exiled his son Ram to the jungle under Kaikeyi’s pressure. I take it as an opportunity to go among the people and struggle for their rights. I will continue my battle against the dictatorial and anti-democratic forces the way my father (Lalu Prasad Yadav) did,” Tejashwi said; gravity was writ large on his face.

He recalled that Nitish had laughed by saying “paisa kahan se laayega (where will he get money from)”, when he (Tejashwi) promised 10 lakh jobs to the youths in the 2020 assembly. “However, when you joined the Mahagathbandhan you began fulfilling my promise. I am happy that our Mahagathbandhan gave over four lakh jobs during a short-period of time—an unprecedented feat in the annals of India. The education department which was under the RJD’s quota alone handed out over two lakh jobs,” Tejashwi said, adding, “Now you are accusing us of taking credit. Why shouldn’t we take credit for the work we have done,” he asked.

Tejashwi reminded how Nitish had come back to the RJD, alleging openly that the BJP was all out to split his JDU. “You repeatedly alleged that they (BJP) had captured the media and the journalists were not publishing what you were saying. You repeatedly said that you would prefer to die than go back to the BJP…I don’t want to repeat all these for they are too hackneyed now.”

Unimpressive Nitish

Against Tejashwi’s composure, Nitish looked bitter when he stood up to speak. He got angry when some opposition members tried to interrupt. The alacrity and flow he was once known for was missing. “What was there in Bihar when I came to power in 2005? There were no roads, no electricity, no schools, no hospitals. The people feared coming out on the streets during the rule of your father (Lalu) and mother (Rabri Devi),” he said.

Even the BJP members were seen smiling when Nitish said, “Barring a brief interregnum when I handed over the CM’s post to Jitan Ram Manjhi, I have been the CM for 18 years. I have stayed with the BJP for a large part of my stint as the CM and have carried out all-round development of the state. Now, I have come back to my old house. I won’t go anywhere from here now.”

He was downright wrong when he said that the 15 years of the Lalu-Rabri regime were infamous for riots between Hindus and Muslims and he ensured justice for the minorities when he came to power in 2005. Lalu Yadav had come to power in 1990 in the background of one of the worst-ever communal riots in Bhagalpur in 1989.

If anything Lalu’s rule is remembered for, it is for restoring the communal amity in Bihar. The only exception was the riot of Sitamarhi in the 1990s. Lalu had camped at Sitamarhi for seven days, moving out among the people to restore peace and carry out relief operations on a large scale which the then Prime Minister, Chandra Shekhar had praised in glowing terms.

Of course, Nitish initiated many measures to improve the condition of the minorities when he came to power in 2005 in the era of Atal Bihari Vajpayee; the BJP itself then was not as atrocious to the minorities as it is to Narendra Modi pursuing the radical Hindutva.

Needless to say, Nitish won’t be able to protect minorities in the manner in which he did with Vajpayee at the helm of affairs.

The new deputy to Nitish, Vijay Sinha heaped the charges of corruption on Lalu and his family and indicated that the investigating agencies would go hard on them. Nitish, who used to say that the investigating agencies were after the Lalu family because he had joined the Mahagathbandhan, sounded in tune with Sinha on Monday. “They were making money when they were in power with me. I will get the charges of corruption investigated now.”

Nalin Verma is a senior journalist, author, media educator, and independent researcher in folklore.

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